Orchardists squeeze year’s business into one day

B.C. Fruit Growers Association agm in January will be conducted in a single day this year with a reduced budget.

Tight budgets at the senior government level are reflected in a reduced budget for the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, so its 124th annual general meeting has been cut to a single day event next month from the usual two days.

However, that didn’t stop growers from proposing resolutions calling for more financial support from both the provincial and federal governments, for activities such as safety net programs (which have been reduced), the provincial replant program and for a PST rebate program.

In addition, growers are again requesting an overall lift to the provincial agriculture ministry budget, which they say doesn’t match up with budgets in other provinces.

Those resolutions will be discussed just prior to a presentation at 11:30 a.m. by provincial agriculture minister Norm Letnick at the convention, to be held in Penticton this year, on Sat., Jan. 19.

This year 19 delegates representing the South Okanagan/Similkameen, Okanagan-Skaha, Central Okanagan and North Okanagan regions will vote on a total of 28 resolutions as well as discussing a number of reports from industry organizations such as the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative and the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation.

A financial report and the budget for the coming year as well as the newest senior government program, Growing Forward Two, will also be the focus of presentations during the morning of the meeting.

In the afternoon, members will discuss financial programs and labour issues, grower committees and the Apple Research and Promotion Agency.

Growers will also hold their annual elections.

Although they could vote to open nominations from the floor, at present, the vice-president elected last year, Jeet Dukhia of Vernon, is president due to the resignation of Kirpal Boparai, the Kelowna grower who was elected president last year.

Dukhia has been nominated for the position of president, as has Kelowna grower Fred Steele, a former vice-president of the BCFGA.

Dukhia has also been nominated for vice-president, along with former BCFGA president Joe Sardinha.

For the southern district position, Peter Simonsen of Naramata has been nominated, while for the northern district, Amarjit Lalli of Kelowna has been nominated, along with newcomer Asif Mohammed of Vernon.

To represent the four regions, Nirmal Dhaliwal of Oliver, Denise MacDonald of Summerland  and Madeleine van Roechoudt of Lake Country have been nominated, while both Sukhpaul Bal and Jora Dhaliwal of Kelowna will contest the Central Okanagan position. All are incumbents except Bal.

Resolutions proposed by the different regions indicate growers are of several minds regarding the Sterile Insect Release program, with one resolution calling for the program to be stopped, while another calls for its expansion and still another for its support as it is.

Another resolution calls for a reversal of the federal government’s cutback of research programs in such facilities as the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland, where new varieties are developed and research in plant pathology has been going on for decades.

A code of conduct for the executive was proposed by the Okanagan-Skaha regional council in order to develop competent future leaders for the organization, which has undergone some turbulence this year.





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